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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   11 February [1868]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 11:

My dear Sir

I am going to ask you, as so often on other occasions, to aid me if in your power.— I want to know the proportion of birth of males to females in as many domestic animals as possible. Now has this been ever recorded with poultry, especially Ducks, or, pigeons.—or Turkeys or canary Birds &c &c &c. Perhaps some of the great pigeon fanciers wd. know whether they habitually rear a large excess of males or females.

As you have a good memory, perhaps you may remember references in regard to domestic quadrupeds, as cattle, sheep, horse, dogs & rabbits. If you would be so kind as to keep this subject before your mind you might find out from Rabbit-fanciers &c &c. I never thought the subject wd concern me, so did not keep references, & now I find that it does most essentially.— Do not trouble yourself to write, until you get, if you can, some information for me; & I believe that you will excuse my begging this favour.—

Would it do any good putting the question in the Field? if so would you do so, as one of Editors perhaps your name wd. be more effective than mine; but if you like you could sign my name.—2 I have written to Gardeners’ Chronicle about higher quadrupeds, but Heaven knows whether I shall get answer & to Buckland about Fish.—3

I told Murray to send my Book to you at Field Office; if you have not received it, let me hear; otherwise do not thank for forms sake.—4

I have been heartily rejoiced to see your Pigeon & Poultry books so well spoken of in many Reviews—5

I hope you are well: I am better but a good way from strong.—

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

Could you ask at any Pigeon Club about Pigeons


The year is established by the reference to CD’s letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 11 February [1868].
Tegetmeier inserted a request for information on the proportion of the sexes in domestic animals in the Field, 22 February 1868, p. 144. Tegetmeier stated that the request had come from CD, and that it was made ‘in the interests of scientific research’.
See letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, 11 February [1868], and letter to F. T. Buckland, 12 February [1868].
CD refers to John Murray; Tegetmeier’s name appears on the presentation list for Variation (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV).
CD refers to Tegetmeier 1867.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1867. The poultry book: comprising the breeding and management of profitable and ornamental poultry, their qualities and characteristics; to which is added ‘The standard of excellence in exhibition birds’, authorized by the Poultry Club. London and New York: George Routledge & Sons.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Wants information on sex ratios in domestic animals. Can WBT help?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5859,” accessed on 26 February 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16